By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
A SIMPLE, THREE-STEP PLAN FOR KICKING ASS AND TAKING NAMES EVEN THOUGH YOU DONE GOT OLD AND CAN'T DO THE THINGS YOU USED TO DO BECAUSE YOU DONE GOT OLD
1. Make hay while the sun shines
We all know there's an end to everything. In Yonkers's case, ongoing battles with arachnoidosis (a rare form of multiple sclerosis) give every record that comes out an urgency and poignancy beyond what's burned on the Mylar.
So, selfishly, I'm glad that he's got four new releases coming out in the next three or four months. There's a reissue of 1969's folky Grimwood on Destijl/Sub Pop; home-brewed electronic music on Mark Trehus's Nero Neptune label; and the long-delayed 2003 Michael Yonkers Band album (Yonkers with Seattle friends Dean Whitmore and Jed Maheu), on Go Johnny Go this spring. And, yeah, there's Carbohydrates Hydrocarbons (also due out on Go Johnny Go this spring), a fistful of short, sharp songs led by Yonkers's fraught vocals and screaming, searing guitar. It's rougher and rawer, more searching and restless than records by people a third of his age. Yonkers turns 60 next year.
2. Ask lots of questions
Even the song titles are quizzical on Carbohydrates Hydrocarbons: "Can It Be," "Why Don't," "What's a Comin,'" and, natch, "I Ask You Now." You don't know if he's interrogating fake friends, unhelpful bureaucrats, a higher power, or that old rat bastard arachnoidosis who dogs his every move. "I wonder if you're even here. I wonder if you even care," he wails. But what's crystal clear is his need to understand, to figure out the why, to keep breaking through the seemingly impenetrable.
3. Lose what you don't need
As he cut down his guitar to a slice 30-odd years ago, the same thing is happening in his songs. Yonkers mostly keeps the tracks under three minutes, strips the melodies down to rudimentary frames for his glorious guitar noise, and manages to distill a whole lot of modern woes into one simple couplet: Hey, hey, what's the problem? Carbohydrates, hydrocarbons.
Cecile Cloutier is a Twin Cities music critic and a frequent contributor to City Pages.
Bob Altman had a lot of fun making a movie at the age of 80. He was in the throes of cancer, had a weak heart, was barely mobile, had to lie down and rest in the middle of the day, but he had a big time watching the video monitors and envisioning what he wanted.
Sitting in a canvas chair at Seventh and St. Peter at 4:00 a.m. on a Sunday in July, directing a scene from A Prairie Home Companion in which Kevin Kline gets up from a stool in Mickey's Diner and goes out the door and across a rain-soaked street, pushing to beat the sunrise, Mr. Altman loved looking at that walk and lighting it, angling it, all the while offering running commentary to his audience of minions and extras. He was a happy man. He managed to put mortality aside and pay attention to the work. He paid exquisite attention. He was a famous Hollywood independent—the daddy of the big indie film movement that has taken off thanks to digital technology. He worked from his own experience and insight and refused to be seduced into being somebody else. And if Hollywood turned him down, he simply went elsewhere.
He loved the work. That's what I take from Bob: Do your work and don't waste a minute fighting battles you're going to lose or worrying about what happens two years from now. You are so lucky to be able to create things—music, dance, film, writing, comedy—so be lucky and enjoy the work.
Garrison Keillor is the host and writer of A Prairie Home Companion, which first aired in 1974. He is also the author of 16 books.
Workers Who Wrote Graffiti in an Old Plant in Northeast Minneapolis
BY MIKE GUNTHER
They were here then and we're here now.
They ran the freight elevators, worked the chute, and stacked the bags of seed, all in a basement, no day or night, always cold. The last crew left 20 years ago, but in the stairwells, on the walls and concrete pillars, they left their names, addresses, bets, jokes.
One wall in a stairwell had these names:
G Zlutensky March 26 1922
W G Stowers 2539 Polk Street NE 4-11-28
A W Krueger 3532 37th Ave So
Arnie Johnson 606 34th ave North
Harry Hyrare 6+55 4th Ave NE
Dale Halgren 8-25-81
Albert Kruger Bought a new Plymouth 11-16-35
Is the shits
Deeper in the basement where the toughest jobs were:
Glen Schoen 7/10/69 to 10/24/75
left for "California"
Mike Reid 9-21-71 to 7-29-77
Left for USAF
$5.00 1st one to smoke owes the other
Tacks is going to loose his ass in Vegas
Orv Walters Passed up 8 hrs overtime $160 lost
8 hours again
Dec 13 1981
Chute job 7:30 am
Bill says Walters won't keep his new car
A year and a half
Help! Lay me off!